You’ve heard the saying:
It’s not that a man doesn’t want commitment. It’s that he’s doesn’t want to commit to YOU.
Ouch, right? A punch to the gut.
And sometimes a man isn’t ready for commitment, and there is no “right woman” for him if he’s not ready. Yet, more often than not, when a man stalls on moving forward with you, it’s because you aren’t the one for him.
I see this situation a lot in my work with women dating separated and divorced (particularly recently divorced) men. Often, like I discuss in Dating the Divorced Man, men in these situations can date and even fall in love with a woman, just to wind up:
- Pulling away.
- Dragging their feet about moving forward.
- Deciding that they can’t deal with the demands of a serious relationship while tending to their divorces/ex/kids/finances/life.
- Disappearing altogether.
This is a jarring and painful experience for the woman, to say the least. It’s like having the rug pulled out from under you. And sure, separated and recently divorced men are risky, but when he seems well-adjusted and ready and even eager to move forward, what choice to you have but to believe him? That is, until the change occurs.
It isn’t just women dating separated/divorced men. Many women have dated a guy and thought things were going well and that he had future potential, just to have him balk at the idea of marriage or not take the relationship to the next level. Sometimes these relationships can go on for years. Eventually, whether the guy pulls away or the woman gets tired of waiting for him to come around, the relationship comes to an end.
And it’s a lousy feeling because unlike other guys you’ve dated, this one seemed right for you, seemed like the One. During the breakdown of the relationship and certainly after the split, you may wonder what you did wrong. You may ask, “Why not me?” or “What could I have done differently?” You can torture yourself with these sorts of questions. Even worse, if he moves on with another woman, especially if he does so quickly and offers her what he refused to give you, it can hurt like hell and make you feel like you’re about an inch tall.
Yet, here’s the thing. He really wasn’t right for you. If he were, he’d be with you. He’d commit to you. He wouldn’t make excuses about needing to focus on himself or his life, and he certainly wouldn’t go off and find another woman to commit to. Even if he did go through difficult times and needed his space, if he were the one for you, he would eventually come and find you again.
Moreover, it’s easy to torture yourself with visions of who this “right” woman is that he chose to be with. What does she have that you don’t? Is she prettier? Is she smarter? Is she less insecure about commitment? Does she have some magic allure that makes him want her and not you? I can’t give you a pill to stop such awful thoughts. But I can offer you a couple of true stories to illustrate my entire point.
I had a close male friend (I’ll call him Bo) for years who was naturally good with women. Bo had been with lots of women, they felt comfortable with him, and he was a people person who women didn’t mind sleeping with, even if it never went beyond sex. Bo, myself, and several other men and women all hung out together. Eventually, Bo and one of our female friends, Amy, hooked up. They had a FWB (Friends With Benefits) relationship that showed potential for more, and both admitted that the sex was amazing.
However, with time, it became clear Amy wanted a relationship. Bo strung Amy along and sent mixed signals about wanting to be with her. Eventually, their relationship (and friendship) soured. Not long after, Bo met a younger woman who, despite being in her early 20s, was still a virgin. He fell for her and was completely willing to commit to her, no questions asked. You can probably imagine how Amy felt about this.
Our group of friends eventually dissolved, mostly because we moved away or got new jobs or got married. But one day, 10 or so years later, I ran into Bo. We had lunch. I asked him about the virgin, if things had worked out. They hadn’t. They were together for a long time, but she had eventually cheated on him and that was that.
Tim is a family friend I’ve known since childhood. He’s tall, nice looking, and gentle… the kind of man that has no problem attracting women. But he had one problem, at least for the women who dated him: he refused to get married. He had long-term committed relationships, including one that lasted over a decade, but he refused to marry, despite the women wanting marriage. Eventually, the relationships dissolved for this reason.
Tim did finally marry… at the age of 55, well past the norm for marrying. I’m told that before they married, this woman walked away and asked him not to call her for 6 months; on 6 months to the day, he called her. Then, he gladly walked to the alter with her. I met her: she was 48, pretty, and gentle… and I thought, “Shit, it’s true. Even a commitmentphobe like Tim will marry if he meets the right girl, especially if she shows she’s willing to walk away if he doesn’t.”
Years later, they’re still married, but there’s a wrinkle. This woman was rude to my mother a couple of times over something really stupid. When I heard the story, I began to see that this woman wasn’t who we thought she was. Now, Tim’s friends and entire family can’t stand her. She’s left him more than once, and he always begs for her to come back.
What’s my point here? It’s this: When a man won’t commit to you, but commits to another woman instead, it doesn’t mean she’s a superior woman, that she has some valuable trait that you don’t, or that he’s going to live happily ever after with her. It means that, for whatever reason, he needs something else, even if that something winds up hurting him down the road. That’s his journey, and he needs to take it.
Bo had a great friendship and great sex with Amy. But for whatever inexplicable reason, the guy who’d slept with tons of women wanted a virgin. There was some sort of issue there that attracted him to her more than other women. Likewise, Tim had great relationships with nice, stable women. But for whatever inexplicable reason, he prefers a troubled woman he has to appease.
Love is strange. Attraction is stranger. People want what they want, whether it’s good for them or not.
Even in situations where the man chooses a partner with whom he has a successful relationship/marriage, it still doesn’t mean she’s a better woman. It means that, for whatever reason, she has some trait he needs.
If you find yourself in a healthy relationship with a man who won’t commit, trust that there’s a reason, that he isn’t the guy for you. The universe has a guy for you, and when you meet him, you’ll understand why all your previous relationships failed.